On Monday 19 July 2021, Alex Greenwich, the independent Member for Sydney, honoured a commitment he made earlier this year by releasing his draft Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021, allowing for a period of consultation with his parliamentary colleagues and key stakeholders before he introduces the Bill when Parliament resumes, hopefully in September.
The much-anticipated Bill, aims to give terminally ill people in NSW the ability to avoid the extreme suffering many experience at the end of their lives, despite the best available medical care.
Dying with Dignity NSW has welcomed the release of the legislation and are just one of a number of key organisations who have expressed support for the proposed assisted dying laws.
The draft legislation has already received the endorsement of key stakeholders including the Health Services Union (HSU), Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA), Older Women’s Network NSW (OWN), Cancer Voices NSW and the Australian Paramedics Association NSW.
Mr Greenwich has written to all members of parliament sharing personal testimonies from their electorates highlighting why reform is needed, offering expert briefings and seeking their feedback. He also provided a VAD Flow Chart to illustrate the highly-safeguarded process and some Frequently Asked Questions related to the Bill.
Mr Greenwich has offered all members of parliament the opportunity to co-sponsor the bill and has already welcomed cross-party support from across the parliament, including from Nationals MP the Hon Trevor Khan (who led the push for reform in 2017), Independent Member for Macquarie Greg Piper, Labor MP frontbenchers Jo Haylen and Jodie Harrison as well as Labor MPs Liesl Tesch, Tim Crakanthorp and David Mehan, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann (who led a push for reform in 2013), the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s Helen Dalton and the Animal Justice Party. Labor, the National Party, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, and One Nation have confirmed their members will have a conscience vote, with all Greens supporting it.
“The urgency of this reform to communities across NSW is represented by the growing multi-partisan coalition backing this conservative and compassionate legislation. I look forward to welcoming as many members as possible to co-sponsor the bill”
Mr Greenwich had planned to introduce the legislation in mid August however the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Greater Sydney has delayed this timeline. Dying with Dignity NSW and supportive MPs are hoping that the debate, although delayed, can proceed in 2021.
“COVID has stopped a lot of things, but it hasn’t stopped people being diagnosed with terminal illnesses or experiencing intolerable pain and suffering from that illness; it hasn’t stopped the need for NSW to provide the same compassionate and dignified end of life choices as other states”
“For the terminally ill in NSW who face extreme suffering, this is urgent. They want peace of mind, dignity and as much control as possible over a gentle and compassionate end of life.
“For the NSW citizens who need this bill, every day matters. I am confident that my parliamentary colleagues have heard that message loud and clear. It’s now up to them to carefully review and consider the legislation and then get this done,” Mr Greenwich said.